I almost passed this one on by.
I do this. You tell me, “Oh, I met this person you’ll just love!” and I repel. Surely this is remnants of 16-year-old angst, but in the case of Laura Smith, it’s also because she had what I wanted. When we met three years ago, she was a published author with multiple titles to her name, and I was a girl who’d tried to write something several years back and failed. I wanted to try writing again, but was too scared, which is why my friend, Amber, suggested her friend, Laura. Yeah, I could see how running some stuff by another writer could help, but I was too consumed with the idea that there was room for only one of us.
I believe they call this envy.
Well, trying to keep Ms. Smith at bay is like trying to ignore a double rainbow in the sky. The splendor requires you to stop, pay attention, and marvel. So went my first meeting with Laura when I tentatively shared my kinda, sorta, shoulda, maybe, perhaps writing thoughts with her. I don’t remember what she said, but I can guess to its cotton-candy nature based on the follow-up email she sent me (with Laura, there’s always a follow-up email):
Thinking about you today and your writing journey. I wanted to remind you that if God gave you this talent, He doesn’t want it buried in the sand, but used for His glory. He’ll reveal to you how and when and in what ways.
In short, Laura Smith is one of the most lovely human beings I’ve ever met. And she’s my writing buddy.
What does that mean? It’s probably unique to each pair, but for Laura and me it looks like … everything. We officially met this morning to talk about a Coffee & Collaboration chat we’re hosting next Saturday (you should come), and we did talk about that. We did. We also talked about a speaking engagement she did last weekend, the class I’m teaching now, the revisions she sent to her editor, my haircut, her date night with her husband, and the fact that we both slept in today. She shared three Bible verses she’s underlined, and I reminded her that she’s underlined her whole Bible. I warned her that I would be blogging about her today, and she reminded me of how I used to be so jealous of her. I told her I would own up to that and then compare her to a double rainbow.
“I’m also going to say something that will make you uncomfortable,” I warned.
“What?” she asked, already uncomfortable at the thought of uncomfortable.
“That Lu wouldn’t exist without you.”
I can’t put it more plainly. Yes, I wrote the book, but she encouraged me to do it at a time in my life when most people didn’t because they couldn’t. Fiction writing is a neurotic space, and it takes one to support one. It’s a lonely space with a firm “No Talking!” rule that’s hard on an extrovert like me (and bliss for an introvert like her). It’s also a nebulous space with an indistinct finish line. Why was I doing this? How would I do it? Would I ever finish? For what? You’re doing this because God called you to do it. You will write it one chapter at a time. You will finish, and God will do amazing things through it.
I wouldn’t have written past Chapter 10 without my writing buddy. Even the loneliest of work isn’t meant to be done solo. I breathed my dream to life when I shared it with Laura. She upped the ante. Send me your work. It took me two months to work up the courage, but I did. It took a little less time to send the next batch and the next batch. Sometimes her response was a green light and sometimes it was a redo, but it was always encouraging and it always made the work real. And so I’ll say it again.
Lu wouldn’t exist without Laura Smith (who is at this very moment writing me a follow-up email about how it’s not her, but God through her and how God used me to do x,y,z in her life and so on and so forth).
I get it. Do you? Good! Buddy up on Day 4 of NaNoWriMo.